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Souther proves his work holds up as well as Dylan’s or Simon’s or Lennon and McCartney’s and . . . deserves such astute re-examination.
Souther did more than sketch out the emotional landscape for the introspective West Coast country-rock sound of the 1970s. He set the template.
A pivotal member of the L.A. country-rock posse of the Seventies
John David “JD” Souther was one of the principal architects of the Southern California country-rock sound and is one of the most respected songwriters in American music.
Born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Texas, Souther came into his own upon moving to Los Angeles and becoming part of the burgeoning singer-songwriter scene surrounding the Troubadour bar. It was here that he met the artists who would figure so prominently in his career: Glenn Frey, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Ry Cooder, and many others.
By 1976, the Eagles had huge hits with his music and Linda Ronstadt had made breathtaking recordings of his songs, some of them duets with him. But it was 1979 when Souther registered his first massive hit as a solo artist: “You’re Only Lonely” from the record You’re Only Lonely. The 1980s and 1990s saw Souther’s songs sell another ten million units on records by George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Brooks and Dunn, and the Dixie Chicks, to name a few.
He received a major career accolade in 2013 when he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Recently, Souther has adopted more of a jazz songwriter persona, with records full of new and old originals recorded in a stripped-down, haunting style. On his latest record, Tenderness, he balances his pop and jazz sensibilities, paying particular homage to his earliest influences, the geniuses of the twentieth-century Great American Songbook.
Producer’s Circle member Tom G.